Preserve the harvest…the art and science of freezing and canning

With only 2 and a half weeks to go, we’ve got close to 30 people RSVP’d for the KCTTTT! It should be a great afternoon to taste some tomatoes and talk gardening in the city.  I hope to see you there!

It’s to the point in the garden that everything is at peak, but we’ll still have peppers, tomatoes, and beans until cold weather sets in…peppers can hang in there until first frost.   If you want to save some of this peak summer flavor to enjoy all year long, then you need to learn how to freeze or can your surplus harvest.

If you don’t have a surplus of some things, it’s no sin to go to the farmer’s market and stock up on veggies at a great price.  I went to the River Market this morning and bought peppers, tomatillos, cilantro, and lemons..all at a great value.  I then stopped by one of the coolest stores in town…Planter’s Seed.  They sell bulk spices there that are a great deal and very fresh.

Once you’re stocked up on veggies and supplies…make sure you’ve got a sharp knife and a few hours to spare!

The best tomatoes to use for salsa are the paste types…Romas and Opalka are my favorite as they have lots of meat, fewer seeds, and not much juice.  Set a big pot of water to boil and another big bowl of water with a good amount of ice.  If you don’t have some of these bowls…you need to add a few to your cabinets!  If you are using romas or opalkas, cut the stem end of the tomatoes off.  If you use bigger tomatoes, you need to core them out with a sharp knife.  When the water is boiling, drop a dozen tomatoes at a time in the water and let them cook cor about 1 minute.  Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drop in the ice water.  This blanching process makes removing the skins very easy…just give them a squeeze!  If you like chunky salsa or are just canning chunks of tomatoes, use a butcher knife to chop them to your desired size.  If you want to save some time, plop them in the food processor and pulse them a few times…saves a lot of chopping!

If you’re making salsa, then do a search for salsa canning recipe…you’ll find one you like I’m sure.  I make mine differently each year and none ever goes to waste!  This year I am using roasted garlic (like I used for the bruschetta), tomatillos, onions, yellow peppers, jalapenos, Planter’s Hot Picante Seasoning, Ancho seasoning, Cumin (always use this!), lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, and plenty of fresh cilantro.  If you want the pepper taste, but not so much heat, take the seeds and ribs out of the jalapenos…if you like it hot…leave them in.  Either way…use disposable gloves when handling peppers…you’ll thank me later!

When you’re done chopping…it should look something like this:

Cook this down until the onions are soft and translucent, then save some back to eat in the next week or two and can the rest.

Canning isn’t a difficult process…most canning does not require a pressure cooker…just a hot water bath.  If you can beans or meats, a pressure cooker is needed though.

One thing to make sure you do whenever you can tomatoes is to add lemon juice.  We always talk about how much acid tomatoes have, but they don’t have enough to ward off some nasty bacteria so I always add a tablespoon of lemon juice per quart of any tomato product I can.  Don’t forget this step!

As for materials to can…it’s simple.  Sterilized jars…use the HOT setting on your dishwasher or wash by hand and rinse with near boiling water.  A big pot to boil water for the hot water bath.  A pair of jar tongs, a lid magnet, and a canning funnel.  You’ll need some fresh lids that you’ll sterilize in a small pot of boiling water and rings to match them.  All of this can be bought at local hardware stores or if you must…Wal-Mart.

I could spend an hour trying to explain the process, but if you go to the Ball site: http://www.freshpreserving.com/ This site has allllllll the safety information and step by step guides.  If you get stuck or have questions…feel free to ask me though and I’ll do what I can to help.

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8 Comments »

  1. K Mueller said

    It’s like Parker said.

    It’s what 18 days till the tasting and even you yourself said it in your post above – “everything is at peak”.

    Catch things at peak! As the days get shorter the flavor also starts to change (the brix – measure of sugars – on plants can change slightly due to less light).

    If you have it earlier next year I will have lots of things to bring you won’t find elsewhere. But by the 22nd blight, which is bad this year because of the rain, will have over run many plantings and the best will be past.

    If I can make it I will bring what I can.

    /<

    • huntoften said

      I hope to see you there on the 22nd! As for it being late…I personally did not have any other date on a weekend other than the 22nd that I could do this. I didn’t think we’d have a good showing on a week night. I still think we’ll have plenty of varieties to taste as I talked to two growers at work today that are just now getting ripe fruit because they started late. Nevertheless, it will be a great time to share gardening stories and meet with fellow urban gardeners.

      On the blight issue…I finally committed to a regimen of Daconil this year and I’ve avoided all but a small outbreak of blight. I know it’s not organic, but I lost entire beds in years past to blight. From the research I’ve done and from the advice of folks that know way more about tomato gardening than me, I think Daconil is pretty safe.

      • K Mueller said

        Unfortunately, life is what gets in the way when you’re busy making other plans.

  2. K Mueller said

    Oh here are some pics of what I have been getting,

    http://twitpic.com/photos/kctomato

  3. Great stuff, I worked with Jen when she was at Muller (I’m at Consumer Reports). I do canning, as well (tomato sauce, eggplant, mushrooms, etc.). Check out my articles on Scordo.com

    Best,
    Vince

  4. Jennie said

    Any chance you can give me approximate measurements for the salsa you mentioned above? *”If you’re making salsa, then do a search for salsa canning recipe…you’ll find one you like I’m sure. I make mine differently each year and none ever goes to waste! This year I am using roasted garlic (like I used for the bruschetta), tomatillos, onions, yellow peppers, jalapenos, Planter’s Hot Picante Seasoning, Ancho seasoning, Cumin (always use this!), lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, and plenty of fresh cilantro.”*
    Thanks a bunch!

    • huntoften said

      lol…approximate measurements! ummm…I just add some of this and some of that until it tastes right to me. I have a recipe a customer gave me that has exact measurements for different sized batches. I can e-mail it to you if you’d like.

  5. […] A post from a long time ago with how I make and can salsa. […]

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